When I spoke to Shearwater‘s Jonathan Meiburg last fall, he already had a title and vibe in mind for the follow-up to the Palo Santo – Rook – Golden Archipelago triptych. Meiburg explained it this way:
I’m gonna try to make the next one pretty different from these last three. I think I want it to be a lot more ecstatic and emotionally immediate. Less of the green floating head and more of the man-behind-the-curtain thing. I have a tendency to write songs that seem a little bit disembodied, or where my voice is kind of disembodied, and I wanna have a body on this next record. I feel like I’ve gone about as far as I wanna go in that direction. I wanna make something that’s earthier and tougher.
On “Breaking the Yearlings,” from the forthcoming Animal Joy (Shearwater’s first for Sub Pop), the band stuck to that vision. Meiburg will always have somewhat of a floating quality to his voice, but he’s more visceral here, and the band sounds more like a rock band than an eerie symphony in the clouds. (The album press release even makes it clear that “No strings or glockenspiels were touched during the making of this album”). For those who prefer Shearwater’s more propulsive tunes (“Rooks,” “Black Eyes”), you’re gonna love this. I like both sides of Meiburg, and I’ve had this on repeat today.
Animal Joy comes out Feb. 14, the same day Shearwater and Sharon Van Etten play the Wexner Center. Bring yer sweetheart.